HEAD OF THE CLASS
June 23, 2015
Dave Massengale has helped 18,000 students achieve fire and medical certification. He has also motivated at least 10 percent of that number in his courses, helping others achieve higher classroom interest in preparation of the job he’s been doing since the beginning of protocol time.
“I remember the days when Dr. (Jeff) Clawson gave his personal approval to every instructor,” said Massengale, retired, Sacramento County EMS and IAED associate director, and current IAED instructor extraordinaire. “That was quite the honor. He had high expectations, and I was truly impressed by the protocol and his vision for emergency communications.”
Dr. Clawson, inventor of the protocol systems, apparently was equally taken by the then-new recruit and still is. On April 29, during NAVIGATOR’s Opening Session, Massengale received the inaugural Instructor of the Year Award, recognizing his talents and dedication in presenting EMD and EFD certification courses and mentoring new instructors.
“At some point all of you have taken a course from the tireless instructors who have been with the Academy for so many years,” said Pam Stewart, Chair, IAED Board of Certification, who presented the award.
And chief among the dedicated and industrious is Massengale.
The award took Massengale by surprise, although he admittedly couldn’t help but notice the similarities between his background and the long list of accomplishments read on stage before his name was announced.
“Pam did her homework,” he said. “I was very impressed.”
Massengale is a person of few words when it comes to talking about himself. He shies away from attention and accolades and barely spent a minute on stage accepting the honor and standing ovation. He’d rather talk about public safety communications, the work done by the Academy’s College of Fellows (of which he is the longest-serving member), and the influence protocol has had on the lives of the untold millions of callers, dispatchers, and field responders.
“The Academy has been [and continues to be] a major part of his life,” said Carol Massengale, who, similar to her husband, has dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours in support of the Academy. “He’s been there from the start.”
Massengale knew what his future held at the ripe young age of 15. He was a member of the local Emergency Services Explorer Post program, under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America, and, because of his age, placed in the communication center rather than in the field.
“I wasn’t old enough to go on an ambulance,” he said.
The experience made a positive impression. He liked it and made a career of communications following several years as a firefighter/paramedic. His introduction to the Academy came through Rich Saalsaa, a part-time dispatcher at the same center who was at that time working on a computer program for the Academy (forerunner of ProQA).
“I was certified,” Massengale said. “I really liked protocol, and Rich said Dr. Clawson was looking for instructors. I applied.”
The certified Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) and Dr. Clawson-approved instructor was soon on the road, going to centers in California promoting the use of protocol with the tools—transparencies, a projector, slides, and sample cardsets—ferried inside the trunk of his car. The 9-1-1 environment was notably different 25 years ago, Massengale said. Protocol was a relative newcomer to EMS dispatch, celebrating 11 years in operation at the time Massengale came on board.
“It’s amazing what Dr. Clawson has been able to achieve,” he said. “I’m very proud to be even a small part of that.”
Massengale was also among the 28 instructors honored with the IAED Pioneer Award presented at the April 27 Instructor Appreciation Reception.
“The instructors receiving the award this year have been instrumental in helping the protocols spread around the world,” Clawson said. “They believed in the protocols from the very beginning and have been tireless in teaching tens of thousands of dispatchers to ensure that the citizens in their communities receive the very best emergency, health, and social services possible.”